HISTORY OF THE US 81st Division (Wildcat Division)

World War One and THE 81ST WILDCAT DIVISION (And information of the 316th)

The United States Army’s 81st Division was first comprised of men that were drafted from Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina on September 5, 1917. Theire first title was the “Stonewall Division” in honor of Confederate General T J. Jackson. Later they were renamed the “Wildcat Division.” The wildcat shoulder patch was adopted, and was the first insignia worn by troops in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).  I am still editing this post, and will include links to patches and history when I get the time.

photo of 316th Wildcats patch

photo of 316th Wildcats patch

The division was organized near Columbia South Carolina at Camp Jackson. 

It was one of the first national army divisions to be organized. In May 1918 the 81st Division was sent to Camp Sevier, near Greenville, South Carolina, and in July 1918 it was sent to New York to be shipped overseas.  August 1918 the 81st Division went to England then to France to fight the Germans.

The division was sent to the American 1st Army on October 19, 1918, and November entered the front lines.  After the war the 81st Division remained in France for more than five months.  The men were shipped back to the United States in early June 1919 and discharged from service.

REACTIVATON OF THE 81ST DIVISION

The 81st Division was reactivated on June 15th 1942.   It was overseas July 3rd, 1944, and after 166 days of combat inactivated on January 30th, 1946 in Japan.  Campaigns were in the Western Pacific, & South Philippines.

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81st Division – Primary Units

161st Infantry Brigade:
321st Infantry Regiment
322d Infantry Regiment
317th Machine Gun Battalion

162d Infantry Brigade:
323d Infantry Regiment
324th Infantry Regiment
318th Machine Gun Battalion

156th Field Artillery Brigade:
316th Field Artillery Regiment (155mm)
(These are the guys in  the pictures above)
317th Field Artillery Regiment (75mm)
318th Field Artillery Regiment (75mm)
306th Trench Mortar Battery

Divisional Troops:
316th Machine Gun Battalion
306th Engineer Regiment
306th Field Signal Battalion
306th Train Headquarters and MP
306th Ammunition Train
306th Supply Train
306th Engineer Train
306th Sanitary Train (Ambulance Companies &
Field Hospitals 321, 322, 323, 324)

Insignia of the Wildcat Division  – The cat is in different colors, according to the brigade
BLACK – Headquarters, Machine Gun Battalion, and Engineers
WHITE – One Hundred and Sixty-first Infantry Brigade
LIGHT BLUE – One Hundred and Sixty-second Infantry Brigade
RED – One Hundred and Fifty-sixth Field Artillery Brigade and Ammunition Train
BUFF – Field Signal Battalion, orange; Sanitary Train, green, and Supply Train

Commanders of the 81st Division during World War One
Brig. Gen. Charles H. Barth      August 28th, 1917
Maj. Gen. Charles J. Bailey      October 8th, 1917
Brig. Gen. Charles H. Barth      November 24th, 1917
Brig. Gen. G.W. McIver           December 28th, 1917
Maj. Gen. Charles J. Bailey       March 11th, 1918
Brig. Gen. G.W. McIver           May 19th, 1918
Brig. Gen. Munroe McFarland   May 24th, 1918
Maj. Gen. Charles J. Bailey       May 30th, 1918
Brig. Gen. G.W. McIver           June 9th, 1918
Maj. Gen. Charles J. Bailey       July 3rd, 1918

Commanders of the 81st Division during World War Two
Maj. Gen. Gustave H. Franke (June-August 1942)
Maj. Gen. Paul J. Mueller (August 1942 to inactivation)

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have come across a photo of two soldiers, one of which is identified as “Lieut. Charles Reese, Purchasing Dept, Utilities Q.M.C., Camp Jackson, South Carolina. I’m trying to find out if anyone knows anything about him. Was he a “Wildcat?”

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  2. We found a note with pot. John Earl Tuttle Amb co.321-306, sanitary train. 81st division american expeditionary forces.I also found what looks like a basic training pic. With blanehard on the bottom. Would like to find apic of his division. I have a ww1 rectangular pic with no info on it. How could i identify. Do you have anymore info on this. Where could I find more? I am a grandchild. Thanks

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  3. My name is Willis Truesdale Jr. My grandfather was Forrest Tillman Buice. I have a picture of him with the 318th FA band. This is inscribed on the drum which he played. I also have a “trench art” 75 MM shell with the following inscription:

    1918-1919
    318
    X crossed infantry rifles
    U musicians symbol (harp?)

    The reverse side says AEF enclosed in a triangle and France to one side.

    I assume his group fired this shell. I can not prove it. He brought that back from France and as a child I told him I wanted it some day.

    I know he was a musician because of the band picture. In the picture is displayed the “Nice Music Banner. ” This banner is on display in the South Carolina Archives in Columbia. I have to go see this before I die.

    If you have any information on Forrest Tillman Buice, please let me know. I will pay for your research if needed. I know he was just another doughboy. I also need to know if they wore a blue “take it and follow me” pin. I think this was standard infantry issue, but do not know for sure. I have that enclosed with my 1903 Springfield. I found that in a drawer at his home and I confiscated it while I was little.

    Thanks for taking your time to keep this site up and passing it on with our heritage.

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  4. My great grandfather was james frank guy. He was drafted into the 81st from Waynesville NC. He was born in 1896 and died in 1954. Any info you may have on him would be greatly appreciated.

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    • I wouldn’t personally have information on anyone from that era except my husbands grandfather. However, like all of you I’d like to get a copy of the rosters from the 316th with all the names. Right now I’m preoccupied with family, but sometime this year I may get around to it. The rosters would list all of that information.

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  5. My great grand father’s name Wesley Irvin Willis. I have a picture of his company (F) taken in June 1919. We would like to know what his rank was and what he did since he never talked about the war

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    • I am going to look into this to see if there is some genealogy list or possibly something on a military government website that might list a roster for this and also some of my relatives. I can’t promise I’ll be prompt because I’m rummaging, but I’ll try. On the down side some World War Two records were lost because of a fire they had, so no guarantees.

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  6. My grandfather, John T. Nichols, was in the 81st. I have his jacket. It has a red wildcat on the left sleeve. Is that a Field artillery unit?

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    • Oh, hey, I think that there were many classifications within the Wildcat or “81st” division. So my next post will just give you links to everything about the Wildcat/81st division history and functions. I just grabbed all the links I could on a search and am posting them for you that have relatives that were in this division. The Field Artilery was just one of the functions of this division.

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  7. Been trying to find info on the Wagoner, Company F, 306th Am. TN. 81 Div. I just found this post. Will definately use it as a starting reference point. Any info you could pass along would be great.

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    • I have been researching just that subject for you. And I’m writing an article about the 306th Am.TN 81st Div. The first thing though that I had to find out was what the abbreviations actually meant. “Am. TN” stands for Ammunition Train. Before that I couldn’t find nuthin’ Stay tuned for the article and lots of links because I’m working on it right now.

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    • Oh, but I forgot. Wagoner, is that a name or a designation?

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      • My great grandfather’s name was Albert Franklin Gray. I assume the wagoner is a designation. WOW! Thank you.

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  8. […] World War One and THE 81ST WILDCAT DIVISION (And information of the 316th) . . . men that were drafted from Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina on September 5, 1917. Theire first title was the “Stonewall Division” in honor of Confederate General T J. Jackson. Later they were renamed the “Wildcat Division.”  . . . […]

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